by Ron Adkins
Lincoln Murdoch recently notched another first place finish at the 2016 Bluff Creek Triathlon. He is a 2012 National Champion Triathlete. In 2013, he qualified to compete in London and placed 6th out of 95 elite competitors, coming in first in his age group.
“I am so blessed,” Lincoln says, smiling, as he discusses his past accomplishments. He has amassed a trophy case full of awards over the course of his 21-year triathlon career.
But this season, the only piece of hardware that matters is the baton he carries in memory of his dear friends, Ty and Terri Schenzel.
“I tuck it into my race belt so I can feel their presence beside me when I run.”
As he crosses the finish line, Lincoln raises the baton aloft, sharing his victory with his absent friends. Its inscription is offered up as a silent challenge to everyone, and for every competition we face on this earth: They ran so well. They ran so hard. Now, the baton stands. Who will pick it up and run with it?”
To say that his 30-year friendship with Ty and Terri had a profound effect on Lincoln would be an understatement. “They were great, inspirational teachers,” says Lincoln. “They ran their laps in life so well, and they touched so many people.” Ty and Terri lost their lives in a car accident while visiting South Dakota in 2015.
The Schenzels and Lincoln were pastors at the same church for many years in Omaha, Nebraska. “They were the most fun people on the planet,” says Lincoln. “We would get together at least once a week for what we called ‘laugh therapy,’ where all the weight of the world was lifted off our shoulders.”
“And yet,” adds Lincoln, “They were very serious about God, and about His healing power and His ability to lift us up. I often said that Ty and Terri had the ability to mix the holy and the hilarious.”
“Most importantly,” says Lincoln, “they valued people. Something not enough of us do these days. You met them and immediately felt like they were your friends. And they were. They cared about people so much.”
The Schenzels founded The Hope Center For Kids in Omaha in 1998, where, according to its website, over 2700 children and youth are provided a safe after-school and summer program where they take part in academic support, youth development, and employment training. Kids can also enjoy what could be the only hot meal they receive all day.
Ty and Terri’s deaths shocked the Omaha community and all those whose lives they touched. One mourner at their memorial service praised them for their vision for greater possibilities. “They showed, with hope, that real men don’t need gangs,” said Justin Coleman.
A year prior to the accident, Ty and Terri opened a second Hope Center in Fremont, Nebraska. Both Centers are still going strong, affecting lives on the foundation the Schenzels put down.
For information on the Hope Center and its mission, visit www.hopecenterforkids.com.
Lincoln beams when he talks about the impact his friends have had on hundreds of young people. He knows no one will ever be able to replace Ty and Terri, nor should anyone ever try. He hopes, however, that through his words, actions, and his own laps on earth, he will inspire more people to pick up the baton and be a positive influence in the lives of others.